niki_chidon: (NotOR)
Niki ([personal profile] niki_chidon) wrote2012-03-11 12:16 am

Fic: Nights of the Old Republic 28/40 (KotOR, Carth/female Revan)

Title: Nights of the Old Republic (28/40): Chapter 27: Manamana
Author: Niki
Fandom: SW: KotOR
Disclaimer: Still not mine.
Notes: This is where I take my biggest sidestep from the story of the game. Some of you may find my take on Revan's hobbies ridiculous but for me it makes perfect sense.
Previous parts: Prologue, Chapter 1, Interlude, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, Chapter 14, Chapter 15, Chapter 16, Chapter 17, Chapter 18, Chapter 19, Chapter 20, Chapter 21, Chapter 22, Chapter 23, Chapter 24, Chapter 25 and Chapter 26


Chapter 27: Something Fishy in the State of Manaan
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"You *sold* our gizka?" Mission sounded incredulous.

"Well," Shin answered. "I didn't actually dare to ask any credits for them. I was just grateful to have someone take them off the ship. It was getting a bit tiring to trip on them all the time. The Selkath originally asked credits to take them off my hands but I, uhh, persuaded him that was not necessary."

"You didn't use Force to..." Mission checked.

"Of course not. That would be cheating!"

"Trust me," Carth said dryly. "She can be very persuasive even without the Force."

"I bet," drawled Canderous, taking part in the conversation for the first time. The hint of – something – very clear in his voice.

"What? Jealous that I never bother to use my powers of persuasion on you?" Shin asked with exaggerated sweetness.

"That was uncalled for," Canderous replied, curtly.

"Was it?" Her voice held definite challenge, and the rest of the crew held their breath.

Canderous met her gaze, then turned away.

"Maybe not," he conceded.

"Good. I'm glad we got this cleared."

o o o

Shin and Carth returned to eat in the Hawk and explained to the others how they had been sidetracked from the quest to find the Star Map. Shin was grateful she and Carth seemed to be able to work together as normal, and talk as if nothing had happened.

"Before we managed to even reach the Republic enclave we ran into this old friend of Jolee's accused of murder," she started. "So now I'm his arbiter, responsible for his defence. Jolee's there now, keeping his wife company. You know," she said in a different voice. "I sometimes wonder if that 'crazy old man' thing wasn't just an act – he's perfectly normal with them."

"The thing is," she went back to her explanation. "I'm beginning to suspect this friend of his. A Republic war hero accused of killing a Sith woman. First of all, it's obvious he was having an affair with her even though he denied it. And despite the planted evidence the circumstantial evidence is enough to fry him on dozen planets. And, beyond that, something fishy is obviously going on in both the Sith and the Republic Embassies. I have an audience with the Republic representative in a bit. I hope it will clarify the situation."

o o o

Shin knew they would need the Ambassador's help in locating the Map – no way could they search through the ocean on their own. The man proposed a trade. Shin had been curious about all the mercenaries the Republic was supposedly hiring and was glad to get an explanation. Not that it was an explanation she would have wanted to hear.

"So let me get this straight... you were harvesting kolto in secret, putting our entire presence on the planet in jeopardy, and now something has gone wrong and everyone you send to find out what it is has disappeared as well?"

Of course they would help, and not only to fulfil the quid pro quo but, damn, this was the Republic they were fighting to save?

She was even more shocked when she accidentally stumbled on a secret recoding in their files while trying to crack the codes to get into the Sith Embassy with the computer they had allowed her to use.

A recoding showing the murder of the Sith woman. A cold-blooded assassination by the crippled, amiable Republic war hero. Jolee's friend. A loving husband. And the Republic officials on the planet were shielding him. Damn.

Distracted momentarily from her quest to help the ambassador Shin and Carth went back to the prison where Sunry was being held. Being Shin, she confronted him with the intel. To their disgust the old man tried to defend his actions by saying he had only killed a Sith, and isn't that what they were doing, too?

"You are talking about acts of war. You murdered your girlfriend in her sleep!" Carth spat out, outraged. Shin couldn't blame him.

"She was a spy! She deserved to die!"

"Killing your lover in her sleep is murder – even if she is a Sith!"

And the absolutely worst part? Sunry had a point. If the truth came out – all of it – the Republic's cover up attempt would seriously hurt their position on Manaan. Which would then affect their access to kolto, and without that they could as well surrender to the Sith right away.

In the end she decided to go to trial. She was meticulous in asking her questions from the witnesses, uncovering the truth. It all came out: the affair, the betrayal, the planted evidence (at least the ones planted by the Sith). The only thing she refused to state was whether she believed her client was guilty or innocent. She also withheld the tape of the murder, hating herself for it.

The judges made their decision based on partial evidence. They let him go.

Looking at the celebrating couple left Shin feeling cold. She hadn't lied. But she hadn't presented the truth either.

"Do you think justice was done?" Jolee asked her, and she could only shake her head. "Not really."

She turned to Carth. "I... I'm still not sure that was the right thing to do."

"I couldn't tell you," Carth said, leading her towards Ebon Hawk. "All I know is that letting him die without any acclaim would have felt wrong, too. He was a hero, once."

"Revan was a hero, once," she reminded him quietly.

"And will be so again, after we have defeated Malak," he said, with a voice filled with conviction.

"How about we head to the Sith Embassy now? I need the uncomplicated, simple fight right now. No sneaking around, not subtlety. Just the fight."

o o o

They took HK-47 and Canderous with them, knowing they both would appreciate the exercise. Together they hijacked the Sith transporter and went in, guns blazing.

It almost felt purifying – even though the idea frightened Shin. Was this her true nature, then? A warrior, a killer?

"We should have brought Big Z," she remarked to Carth with forced lightness to distract herself.

"He'd go crazy with the smell of sea food," he replied, and Canderous laughed, kicking a dead selkath.

The lightened mood didn't last long. They discovered the reason the Sith had been luring the Selkath youth to their ranks, and the sight of all those young creatures... Shaelas' daughter among them. Shin's powers of persuasion were again needed to get them to abandon the Sith.

She succeeded, and they did find the Republic wreck and recovered the data. But as they exited the building they were ambushed and arrested by the Selkath authorities. Luckily, the powers of persuasion and the proof of the Sith conspiracy took care of that and before long they were free to go.

Shin sent HK to deliver the data to the Republic Ambassador and returned to the Hawk with the men. She was not up to discussing with the weasel at the moment. She felt dirty enough as it was.

Literally, she realised, sniffing her armour. She smelled like fried fish.

"I want a shower. A real water shower. And a bath. We're on a water planet, that shouldn't be hard to arrange."

She looked at the rest of the crew.

"Let's take a night off. It will take a while for the Embassy to go through the data and we're not expected there until tomorrow. Not much we can do before that. So... do what you want. But if you leave the ship, remember not to let the Sith goad you into a fight. We don't need any more problems with the authorities! I'm gonna go find myself a bath."

o o o

Well, to her defence, that's what she had been determined to do when she left, right after changing out of her armour and into civilian clothes... but it wasn't exactly the reason she was returning to the Hawk after midnight, still buzzing.

"Where have you been!?"

It was Carth, fully dressed, sitting by the table with a drink. Everyone else seemed to be asleep in their bunks if the sounds of snoring from different parts of the ship was anything to go by.

"What?"

"I was worried, dammit!"

Incensed by his anger Shin shot back, "What? Still worried I'm going to betray us all to the Sith?"

She saw Carth wince and instantly regretted her words. "I'm sorry. That was uncalled for," she muttered.

"You were only supposed to go out for a bit of real water. Pretty long for a bath, don't you think?" Well, he didn't sound angry or suspicious anymore but... was that jealousy? Somehow, she was happier to see it in his eyes that Canderous'.

"Well, it turned out I needed to get a hotel room to get that shower. And they don't rent them by the hour – that's why Elena always spent the night, too, by the way. So I had my shower but when I was leaving... I ran into something that sparked memories. An old hobby of mine, from my earlier Jedi days." She was grinning wildly. "I could show you, if you like. I left early, and could do with a little more."

He looked at her suspiciously, and she laughed aloud. "Let's go!"

o o o

They walked through the abandoned night-time streets of the city and Carth only no noticed what she was wearing – black tight pants, her black top, and a jacket that covered the light sabre.

She had looked at him with a critical eye and decided he'd do in his clothes but had told him to take only one blaster with him.

"Where are we going to go?" he asked suspiciously when she led them down a dark corridor wedged between two buildings.

"To have fun!"

"Shin..."

"You'll see," she promised, banging on a door.

A small window opened, and after a quick glance the door was opened.

"Shin! I thought you'd had enough!"

"Never!" Shin said, grinning, and led them into the building.

Carth could hear the music to the door, feel its drum as they entered.

"He's with me," Shin told the guy at the door as he looked at Carth.

The doorman's eyes paused on the blaster on Carth's belt pointedly but Shin was unperturbed. "He'd look naked without," she said and shrugged, still grinning, and to his embarrassment Carth could see the guy run his eyes over his frame, as if trying to picture him naked.

"Yeah, I know he's gorgeous, but keep your eyes in their sockets," Shin said, dryly.

"Never touch your property," he said, laughing, and putting his hands up in a yielding gesture.

Carth had no time to react to their exchange because Shin had grabbed his hand and was dragging him further inside.

A shady Rodian addressed them from the shadows. "No, he does not need stims to keep up with me," Shin told him politely, and led Carth into the next room.

Carth looked at the writhing mass inside the large room.

"Dancing."

"Yes. Bits of it came back to me... Seems I've never been good at that meditating thing. This is how I cleared my head – this is where I felt my strongest connection to the Force. This is a travelling scene. The same crowds and musicians can be seen on Coruscant, Manaan – even Dantooine had its underground parties, as did the largest ships during the Mandalorian war."

"Shin!" A green Twi'lek girl hailed her from the dance floor.

"That's Birana. Apparently I knew her... before. Had to tell her about... the accident that affected my memory. But... she knew me as Shin."

Carth realised the meaning behind that instantly. "But that would mean..."

"That the Council didn't name me, I did. 'Shin Cidon' was obviously a name I used when I wanted to be incognito!"

"I'll be damned," Carth said, smiling for the first time since they'd left Ebon Hawk. He could see how that seemingly simple little thing was making Shin feel that much better about the whole thing.

It probably contributed to her happiness as well. She was positively radiating it, and had ever since her return to the ship. That was what had made Carth so jealous, but he had been worried too.

"Shin!" The Twi'lek – Birana – was next to them now, and hugging Shin. She was trailed by a darker, green male, who also hugged Shin.

"Oh, sorry... do you remember me? Bir told me about the crash."

"Dak. You're Dak. Right?"

"So I am. What have you been doing all these years we haven't seen you?"

"Oh, you know, the usual. Saved the galaxy, tried to destroy it, and now I'm saving it again," she replied, grinning, obviously enjoying the private joke of not lying.

They laughed as well, then noticed Carth.

"Oh my! Is this what you have been hiding all these years? No wonder you never stray!"

Carth felt his face burn but Shin didn't set the couple straight. She did notice his discomfort, though, and took his hand and started to pull him with her.

"We're gonna grab some drinks, be right back."

She led him to the serving area, ordered them drinks, then explained.

"People are only here for two things. Dancing is the one I apparently ever went for. Bir and Dak seemed to be of the opinion it was because I had someone at home, maybe I led them to believe that to stop people from trying. And, well, it seems you're the only one I've ever brought with me so they naturally think you're him. And for my future safety and comfort, I'd rather not disabuse them of the notion. What Bir knows everyone in the room knows. Hope you don't horribly mind."

She turned to pay for their drinks so that Carth couldn't see her expression. Luckily it also meant she couldn't see his either. He didn't even want to think what his face was revealing at the moment.

"No, of course not," he got out, and she turned to beam at him.

"Come on, let's dance!"

"I don't dance."

"Fine, I'll dance," Shin said, handing him her drink and her jacket and beckoning to Birana. "Come on, girl!"

Carth found himself standing next to Dak, watching the two women on the dance floor. Shin danced like she fought, all that hidden strength in fluid motion, controlled yet explosive. It was beautiful. It was entrancing.

"I always used to wonder whether she loved the way she danced," Dak said. "Wildly, with that total abandon. But she would never go home with anyone. Shin only dances. We can only bask in her glory on the dance floor." He shot a quick glance at Carth. "You might wonder why I' telling you this. But you must have your fears when she is out on her own. She never strays. She never even graces anyone with a second look. You must be quite a man to keep her."

It felt bad to hear such praise when he didn't really merit it. Also, it felt quite wrong to hear Shin discussed in those terms. Still, Dak's tone was respectful so he let it slide.

He tore his eyes off Shin and looked around him. It was a dark, large room, filled with creatures of all kinds. Quite a low number of locals, though. The dance floor took up most room, and that was illuminated by coloured lights.

Instead of the usual Bith and Twi'lek the stage had a holo of a petite woman dancing and singing. The song was light-hearted dancey-lovey stuff that still made him want to move to the beat. Or maybe it was the compelling sight of Shin, dancing "in complete abandon", her skin glowing under the lights.

The song changed, and the beat was even more seductive, now. Shin looked at him, and he felt powerless to resist the invitation, and let her eyes pull him into the fray. Hesitantly, he started to move with her, and was rewarded with a glowing smile.

He hadn't danced in... damn, a decade. That made him feel old. He felt self conscious and awkward, and, looking at Shin's graceful moves, clumsy. But Shin moved closer, guided him, her eyes never leaving his, and he started to relax, and his movement felt more natural.

Afterwards, he couldn't tell how long they danced, only that she seemed to move closer and closer until their bodies were grinding against each other to the rhythm, and he was so hot, from the exercise, from her presence, and there was nothing beyond the two of them. He had never felt such connection with her, except maybe when they kissed.

The music ended, and the holo blinked and disappeared. They stopped moving, leaning against each other, trying to catch their breath.

"I need a drink," Shin said, still gasping.

Carth didn't know what to say after the closeness of the intense dancing. He didn't want to let go of her either, so he rested his palm against her back. Her shirt had ridden up while she was dancing so that the small of her back was exposed. Touching her bare skin made him shudder, made them both shudder. If it felt like this, always, how had she not taken the dance to its near-logical conclusion in the bedroom? That was the only thing he could think of, even though the mere dancing had been a fulfilling experience in a way.

They quenched their thirst while another holo blinked into existence. It seemed to be a group of fuzzy creatures as far as Carth could tell. Shin recognised them. "Oh good, I love this set!"

It was different from the previous one, deeper both in tone and lyric.

"I remember it... just a flash. An impromptu party on a ship, during the final days of the war... I don't remember the songs as such, or even dancing to them, just the atmosphere."

She pulled him back to the floor and glued her body to his. Again they danced for what felt like hours, and Carth could sort of see what she saw in this. He could forget everything, drown every worry in the music, in the movement, in her. The Sith didn't matter, even Bastila's fate was a distant thing. It should have made him feel guilty but he needed the rest, needed the escape, and so did Shin, obviously.

The music mutated into a slow number, and they moved slowly to the tune, still glued together. Shin rested her head against his shoulder, and Carth responded by trying to pull her even closer. He almost let go, though, because she froze, raising her head.

Hearing her gasp, he turned to look into the same direction she was. A familiar blue face was gaping at them from the crowd.

"This is probably what running into your parents making out would feel like," Mission said, grinning, as she reached them.

Carth disengaged himself from Shin (reluctantly), feeling flustered. Shin grinned at the girl.

"You should be at home sleeping, young lady!"

"Yeah? Well, so should you!" she countered, smiling widely.

"You have one hour," Shin said, almost serious now. "Then it's sleepy times for you. Big day tomorrow."

"Yes, mom." Mission stuck her tongue out and danced away.

Carth felt like his face was flaming red... having been seen like that with Shin... and by Mission of all people!

"Time to go, I suppose," Shin said.

"I don't... I... I'm tired," he finished lamely, not sure what he had wanted to say. Even though the mood had been shattered he really didn't want to let go of the closeness they had shared.

"As it happens, I have a hotel room in this very building," Shin said, grinning. "I have paid for it until morning anyway."

He wasn't sure it was a good idea but had to admit he wasn't looking forward to walking through the streets to the ship, sweaty and exhausted – not to mention aroused. Luckily the exercise offered by the hours of dancing was starting to get to him. Maybe he would be able to share a hotel room with her just sleeping.

They made the short journey in silence and took turns in taking quick showers. Shin was already in the only bed when he surfaced. She had put the same top back on but her bra was on top of the pile of clothes next to the bed. He hadn't enjoyed the idea of putting the same sweaty clothes back on but the cheap room had no washer and he'd be damned if he got into that bed naked.

Half asleep, Shin turned to snuggle closer to him when he crawled into the bed and he feared he'd never be able to sleep with her soft body so tantalisingly close... but in the end his exhaustion won.

o o o o

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